The World Cup of Hockey is just a year away, and with the NHL running the event for the first time since 2004, it was expected that there would be a revamp in how the event would take place. That’s the case this time around, and it wasn’t until recently that it was clear as to what the format would be for when the event returns back in 2016.

International hockey tends to run with different rules, but since this is an NHL event, there will be some differences. We’ve broken down any confusions and misconceptions below in order to help you understand what exactly is going to happen when the World Cup of Hockey returns next September.

Rules

With the tournament set to take place in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be played on NHL-sized rinks using NHL rules and officiated by NHL officials. That means players wont need to worry about playing on bigger ice surfaces, something that does play into effect in IIHF settings.

The IIHF WILL BE involved with the tournament, but for the most part, it’s the NHL’s event to rule. It’s kind of like a partnership type thing, with the IIHF helping out with doping rules, some smaller stuff, etc. But otherwise, you won’t have to worry about things like crease violations or anything like that.

Rosters

Instead of the typical 25 player rosters we see at the World Championships, the World Cup will feature teams consisting of 23 players. The most likely combination will be 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies. This gives every position an extra player if needed due to an injury, something that is pretty common at the international stage.

Typically, some of the stronger teams will bring a goal scorer as the 13th forward, leaving the fourth line for more of the role players. Teams like Canada and Russia will likely work with three scoring lines, while using the fourth line for energy, expanded defensive responsibilities, etc. Then, the 13th forward is someone who can be used interchangeably throughout the lines, but may not excel as much as a defensive style player.

There is also a question as to whether teams will be allowed to bring in players from other countries. For example, Russia will be in need of Alex Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk, who both play in the KHL. They will be allowed to poach players from other leagues, but the question, will those other leagues allow them to go over, especially with every other league already well into the regular season by the time the tournament takes place.

16 players have to be named to the rosters by March 1st, 2016, with the final rosters being officially unveiled on June 1st.

Mixed Teams

One of the most controversial decisions for the World Cup of Hockey is the addition of Team Europe and Team Youngstars, two teams that aren’t actually countries. For most people, especially those in countries that are not represented, the idea of that isn’t overly popular, but overall, it may actually create for better action.

Among the countries that could send players to the European select team are Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Belarus, Estonia, Slovenia, Poland and even Macedonia. For some of the favourites to make the team, click here.

The Youngstars team drew a bit of uncertainty heading into the formal announcement, due to the fact that it wasn’t clear if Canada or USA could use some of the U23 players to participate on their own national teams instead. That won’t be the case, meaning all the players 23 and younger that are good enough from Canada and the United States will participate for the second select team. Players must be 23 or under as of October 1st, the absolute final day for a champion to be decided. This means that if you were born on or after October 2nd, 1992, you’re good. For some of the favourites to make the team, click here.

Group Format:

Group A Group B
Team Canada Team Finland
Team Czech Republic Team North America
Team Europe Team Russia
Team USA Team Sweden

Each team will play four round robin games, all consisting with teams inside their own group. So, Canada and USA will play against each other at some point, but Finland and Canada won’t face off until, potentially, the playoff round.

It’s a standard format for international events, with teams taking on the other seven teams in their own group in the eight team, two group World Championship event every May.

Playoff format:

The top two teams from each group will form two semi-final games, with the winners going to the tournament finals. The champions will be decided with a best of three style final, something different from the usual one game elimination format that the IIHF runs with.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

About The Author

Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

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